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Global Harmonized System (GHS) of

Classification and Labeling of Chemicals

Richard W. Peebles
Aon Global Risk Consulting
Presentation Goals
• Overview of GHS and why change HazCom (HCS)
• Compare GHS and HCS aspects
• HCS: What is expected to change
• Tips for transitioning to GHS

GHS Overview
• GHS stands for the Globally Harmonized System for the
Classification and Labeling of Chemicals
• Intended to upgrade and simplify HCS worldwide
• The GHS is not a global law or regulation – it is a system or set
of recommendations or “building blocks”.
• Targets:
– Workers, consumers, transport workers, and emergency
• Covers:
– Classification of hazards
– Labeling of hazardous products
– Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for hazardous products
• 67 countries have implemented (or in process) GHS.
GHS Status (early 2010)


GHS Overview (continued)
• OSHA is expected to publish a final rule on the HazCom
Standard, adopting certain GHS aspects, in August of 2011.
• DOT has already adopted aspects of GHS - transport hazard
classification criteria for toxic materials and flammable liquids.
• The most noticeable changes brought by the GHS for most
U.S. organizations will be the changes to safety labels and
safety data sheets
• As an example, the GHS refers to safety data sheets as
MSDSs. The GHS also standardizes the content and formatting
of SDSs

GHS applies to product life cycle
• Set of guidelines for ensuring the safe
production, transport, handling, use and
disposal of hazardous materials
• Target audiences include workers,
consumers, transport workers,
agriculture (pesticides) and emergency
• Pharmaceuticals, food additives,
cosmetics and pesticide residues in food
will not be covered by the GHS at the
point of consumption, but will be covered
where workers may be exposed
(workplaces), and in transport.
• Similarly, foods are generally not labeled
under existing hazard communication
Why is GHS Important?

Classification Worldwide
Substance with oral toxicity, LD50 = 257 mg/kg
Regulation Classification
EU Harmful (St Andrew’s Cross
US (OSHA) Toxic
Canada (WHMIS) Toxic (D1B)
Australia Harmful
India Non-toxic
Japan Toxic
Malaysia Harmful
Thailand Harmful
New Zealand Hazardous
China Not Dangerous
Korea Toxic
GHS Danger (Skull & Cross Bones)
Primary basis for GHS

Classification Canada
and Labeling Basis

Transport of

U.S. Interagency Working Group
OSHA served as lead U.S. agency
on the classification of chemicals and
proposed changes to Hazard Communication Standard

DOT has implemented

significant GHS components
EPA U.S. GHS in its classification of
pesticides Adoption toxic materials and
flammable liquids
for transportation

GHS History
1983- OSHA issues Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), which is expanded to
1989 include all industries where employees are exposed to hazardous chemicals.
OSHA issues RFI on HCS international harmonization. Majority of respondents
support standard SDSs and labels.
UNCED issues mandate (supported by U.S.) calling for the development of a
globally harmonized chemical classification and labeling system by year 2000.
OSHA, DOT, CPSC and EPA form Interagency Working Group
2003 UN adopts GHS and first edition of the GHS is published
2006 OSHA publishes Advanced Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on GHS
Second edition of the GHS is published and DOT adopts aspects of GHS - transport
hazard classification criteria for toxic materials and flammable liquids.
Third revised edition of GHS is published [currently the most recent] and OSHA
proposes modifications to the HCS to conform to GHS
2010 U.S. hosts public hearings on GHS and OSHA’s proposed rulemaking.
2010 GHS currently implemented or in various stages of implementation in 67 countries
2011 OSHA announced final rule on GHS to be published – August 2011? 12
OSHA HCS Regulatory Process
Position Timetable Enforcement
• Revise HCS to align • ANPR (September 12, • Training on new
with the GHS 2006) labels and SDSs within
2 years of final rule
• Maintain HSC • Notice of Proposed
framework and enhance Rulemaking (September • Full compliance
workplace protection 30, 2009) within 3 years of final
• Public hearing and
comment period (2010)
• Possible 2011 for
published final HCS

GHS modifications to U.S. Regulations
• OSHA plans to publish the final rule on the HazCom Standard (HCS) in
August of 2011
• HCS performance oriented to more GHS uniformity oriented. Best
• Major changes to the HCS will center on:
– Hazard Evaluation Hazard Classification
– Labels
– MSDSs Safety Data Sheets
– Information and Training
• Costs to businesses, according to OSHA, are expected to be limited to
a one-time transition that is phased in over a three year period with the
greatest costs stemming from:
– Re-classification of all chemicals
– Re-authoring of all Safety Data Sheets and Labels
– Training of workers on new label and SDS elements and
familiarization with modified HCS system
• For consumers, labels are expected to be the primary focus of the
Major Proposed HCS Changes
• OSHA has more requirements affected by GHS than other
– Hazard classification: Provides specific criteria for classification of
health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
– Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to
provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram,
and hazard statement for each hazard class and category.
Precautionary statements must also be provided.
– Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.
– Information and training: The GHS does not address training.
However, the proposed HCS will require that workers are trained
within two years of the publication of the final rule to facilitate
recognition and understanding of the new labels and safety data

Hazard Classification
• The world has continued to change as a result of “globalization.”
• We are exporting products to and importing products from
countries, which may use hazard classifications that differ from
• These differing classifications could impede trade and the
accurate communication of safe practices to employees,
customers and the general public.
• For example, a liquid with a flash point of 120º F would have
been considered “Flammable” in Germany, but OSHA would
consider it “Combustible.”

GHS Basic Hazards
• Physical Hazards • Health Hazards • Environmental
– Explosives Hazards
– Acute Toxicity
– Flammable gases, – Aquatic Hazards
• Immediate toxicity • Acute
aerosols, liquids, solids
• Corrosion to skin/eyes • Chronic
– Oxidizing gases,
liquids, solids • Irritation to skins/eyes – Ozone Hazards
– Gases under pressure – Chronic Toxicity
– Self-reactive • Carcinogens
substances • Germ cell mutagens
– Pyrophoric liquids and • Reproductive toxicity
solids • Skin/respiratory
– Self heating sensitization
• Target organ effects
– Water-reactive
– Single exposure
– Organic peroxides – Repeated
– Corrosives
• Aspiration hazard 17
GHS Pictograms

Key Words in GHS

• Class
• Category
• Pictogram
• Signal word
• Hazard

Example: Label Elements

HSC: Labels
• In the past many companies have used NFPA or
HMIS type labels for secondary containers.
• New labeling requirements go a bit further requiring
the name of the material, GHS signal words, GHS
Hazard and Precautionary Statements, and GHS
• Many current labeling formats is that a “1” rating
means the least hazardous with a “4” rating being the
most hazardous.
• GHS is the opposite in that a “1” classification is the
most hazardous with a “5” being the least hazardous.

Label Changes

HSC: Safety Data Sheets
• Prepare for a influx of new, updated SDSs from manufacturer or
distributor to update your facility
• GHS requires specific content in a specific 16 section format (in
specified order) similar to ANSI Z400.1
• Section 2 of the SDS will be the Hazards Identification and will
have standardized phrases, signal words, and pictograms.
• Section 3 becomes the component section listing the
substances using ranges or concentrations under GHS instead
of percentages under HCS.
• Under HCS, SDSs are updated when changes are made to
material or new hazards are found. GHS, 3-5 years review

GHS 16-Part SDS Format
1. Identification 9. Physical and chemical
2. Hazard(s) properties
10. Stability and reactivity
3. Composition/
information on 11. Toxicological
ingredients information
4. First-aid measures 12. Ecological information
5. Fire-fighting measures 13. Disposal
6. Accidental release considerations
measures 14. Transport information
7. Handling and storage 15. Regulatory information
8. Exposure control/ 16. Other information
personal protection 24
Tips for Transitioning to GHS
• Stay informed and watch the timetables to know exactly when
OSHA publishes the final rule!
• Prepare management for the upcoming change and the needs
you will have to insure a successful, compliant transition.
– Update your current program to reflect the changes in HCS.
– Employees must be trained on the new content and format
of both SDSs and Labels: new classifications, pictograms,
signal words.
– Leverage your chemical data management system to aid in
the successful transition of your organization’s HAZCOM
• Finally—pick a timeframe for your organization’s transition and
put a plan in place